John Smith Profile Photo
1931 John 2023

John Smith

December 29, 1931 — December 22, 2023

Newark, DE


John Smith, age 91, of Newark, DE, departed his earthly life on December 22, 2023, in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by his family.


One of seven children, John was the son of the late Anna and Stephen Szmilyk, both immigrants of Ukraine. He was born on December 29, 1931 and spent his childhood on his family's farm near Elkton, Maryland. John attended Jackson Hall, a school house known for having only one room and under fifteen students. He finished his high school education at Elkton High School in Elkton, MD and Conrad High School in Wilmington, DE. Afterward, John attended the University of Delaware and obtained his bachelor's degree in English with a minor in German studies. He was drafted in the United States Army in 1953 and served his country for over a year, spending much time oversees in Germany.


In 1962, John met the love of his life, Janice Whiteley, after encouragement to go on a date with her from his coworkers. The two were wed October 12, 1963 and settled in Newark, DE where they spent the remainder of their lives together. They took their honeymoon in New England and into Canada; locations they grew to love during their sixty years of marriage and revisited with their children and grandchildren. They welcomed their daughters Jennifer in 1965 and Stephanie in 1966. Their most memorable family times consisted of camping for the summer at Treasure Beach in Fenwick Island, DE. John worked for the Bank of Delaware as the Assistant Vice President of Branch Operations for over thirty years, witnessing its transition into PNC Bank. Because of his career, John was able to take his family on many road trips in their 1972 Chevy Impala to attend conferences for the American Institute of Banking. He was viewed by his colleagues as reliable, kind, and hardworking - all traits he maintained up until his passing. Even after retirement, John enjoyed catching up with his previous coworkers over lunch at Cafe Napoli. He continued to give back to his community by helping account for the money collected by the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign during Christmastime and was a proud member of the Kiwanis Club.


Returning to his roots was a privilege John experienced more than once through trips to Europe. Along with his wife, two sisters, brother-in-law, and niece, John went on the "Grand Tour of Europe". There they enjoyed seeing parts of the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, and England. This was an exciting trip for both John and his brother-in-law, Jack, as they were able to revisit many of the places they were stationed in during their time in the service. Years later, John returned to Europe with his daughter, Jennifer, and reconnected with his many family members in Poland. These relationships were maintained until John's passing, notoriously through generous gifts mailed from Australia and Poland for John's family to enjoy during the holidays.


John was known for many things, but most notably, his gardening and cooking skills. If you were to enjoy dinner at the Smith's home, you were guaranteed to have fresh-baked rolls waiting for you. John had the innate ability to open up the cabinet or fridge and put together a delicious meal, a skill passed onto him by his mother. During the holidays, Janice was assigned the task of making her famous eggnog while John made his oyster stew. Year after year, his family made it a point to have this meal at the holidays, regardless of where various family members had relocated. John had a reputation of being the person to call when you were unsure of what plant had begun to grow in your backyard, and knew the exact steps in order to keep them thriving. His home was surrounded by flowers and other plants he worked proudly and tirelessly on, with his family waiting in anticipation for their bloom in the spring. When talking with John, it was very clear that he was both well-read and invested in the story you were telling. All the way up to his death, John remained sharp. He was an observer, and oftentimes you could see the pride and admiration he had for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. If there was a birthday to be celebrated, you could find John and his family enjoying dinner in Wilmington on the Riverfront. When his family was present, John was happy and content. Although known by many as his given name, he was most proudly called "PopPop".


John was the example of strength for his family on numerous occasions, but especially during his two separate fights with cancer. With both of these challenges, John received exceptional care from the Helen F. Graham Center in Newark, DE. He often joked that he was not there for his chemotherapy treatment, but rather their infamous warm blankets. Through the care provided by Dr. Neil Hockstein, Dr. Dhaval Shah, and their respective teams, John was afforded more time with his family - his biggest priority.


In addition to his parents, John was preceded in death by his siblings; Stella Smith, Katie Smith, Michael Smith, Mary Nardo, and Julie Tobin. He is survived by his loving wife of sixty years, Janice Whiteley Smith; daughters, Jennifer Hogan of Newark, DE and Stephanie Prouse of Milford, DE; sibling, Helen Harris of Wilmington, DE; grandchildren, Brent Prouse (Elisa) of Conestoga, PA, Katie Hogan (Jon Sabatino) of Elkton, MD, Jordan Prouse of Milford, DE, and Payton Smith of Avondale, PA; and great-grandchildren, Brody and Layla Prouse.


In lieu of flowers, John's family requests donations be made to either the Helen F. Graham Center or Delaware Hospice. His family is thankful to their incredible team of nurses, doctors, and other care providers for their advocacy, kindness, and expertise during this difficult time.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Smith, please visit our flower store.


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